Ottawa (02 Dec. 2020) — Public Services International, the global union federation of public sector unions, has joined a global coalition working to address the many issues with Amazon’s business practices, including tax dodging and mistreating its workers. The campaign, Make Amazon Pay, is demanding changes to both Amazon’s company policies and government legislation.
Among the problems the campaign is seeking to address are
- The low wages and poor working conditions of workers at Amazon
- The use of casual employment and “self-employment” by Amazon to undermine job security
- Amazon interfering with the right of workers to join unions
- Amazon’s environmental footprint
- Amazon’s tax dodging
- The impact of Amazon working with institutionally racist organizations
Amazon CEO richer than ever while workers suffer
As a recent article in the Guardian pointed out for Amazon’s owners have done very well during the Covid-19 pandemic. The CEO of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, is US$70 billion (about $91 billion Canadian) richer than he was at the start of the pandemic and is the world’s richest man.
For Amazon’s workers, it’s a very different story. Workers are expected to work long hours for low pay and at a pace that results in an “unacceptably high” number of injuries. After reports that Amazon was failing to provide workers with PPE or do a deep cleaning of facilities where there have been outbreaks, it is not a surprise that 20,000 Amazon employees have contracted COVID-19. Workers who speak out have been fired.
Conditions for Amazon workers are so bad that Amnesty International, a human rights organization that usually focuses on human rights abuses by governments, has called on Amazon to clean up its act.
Amazon failing to pay its fair share in taxes
A study released in 2019, found that Amazon was the worst of the largest six multinational technology corporations for tax avoidance. By using tax havens and various loopholes, Amazon has managed to avoid paying its share in taxes. In 2018, Amazon paid no US income tax at all and received a tax rebate of $129 million.
Museum of Missing Nurses shows damage done by Amazon’s tax dodging
PSI has created a Museum of Missing Nurses to show the damage that tax dodging by Amazon and other large corporations are doing. A simulator on the museum website lets people see how many health care workers could be hired if the Amazon CEO paid his share in taxes.
With the impact that staffing shortages in the health care system have had during the COVID-19 pandemic, the damage done by Amazon's tax dodging is not just financial. For every multinational corporation or billionaire dodging taxes there are thousands of families mourning loved ones who passed away too soon.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 390,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. — NUPGE